Tekumel is a planet where the human soul rots in fetters. Daily life groans under the myriad restrictions of tyrannical rulers, harsh laws, ossified caste systems and entrenched clan relationships. Each of you has emigrated to Jakalla, one of the jeweled cities of the Empire of the Petal Throne, in order to escape wretched conditions back home. The Empire’s strictures are no better and perhaps worse than those of your various homelands, but as foreigners you stand outside the local class structure, affording you a possibility of upward mobility otherwise denied to you by your native societies. Through a combination of bravery, luck and skullduggery, you each plan to carve out your own place in Jakallan society. Each night your dreams are haunted by glittering palaces with resplendent gardens and bounteous feasts served by gorgeous slaves.
At least those are your dreams on the nights when sleep is possible. Your humble bedchambers in the Tower of the Red Dome were sufficient when you first arrived in Jakalla penniless and unable to speak the local tongue. But after months of acclimatizing to life in Jakalla’s foreign quarter and a few profitable adventures, you are quite ready to vacate that slimy, vermin-invested flophouse. Each of you deposited a small fortune with Birruku the Allaqiyani to reserve a room in his more amicable hostel. Your meager belongings were packed. All that remained to move to comfortable new rooms was to obtain the necessary transfer permits from the Jakallan bureaucracy. That of course, is where things went wrong.
A minor functionary in the Palace of the Realm, one Gulanqi the Fetid, has blocked each of your applications for permission to relocate. Through an underling he has made it known that the only way to secure less wretched lodgings is to perform a small service for him. It seems Gulanqi’s mistress, Ch’rea of the Lethal Curves, is a member of the Cult of Hyashra, a minor religious group devoted to a goddess who was ejected centuries ago from the state pantheon in favor of Hrihyal, the Dancing Maiden. The local temple devoted to Hyashra has been little more than a heap of monster-infested ruins for nearly as long. The Fetid One will approve your transfer permit only if you venture into the catacombs below the ruined temple and bring him the golden idol of Hyashra, legendary for its craftsmanship and glowing gem-eyes. Success in this mission would no doubt increase your standing with this powerful government official, which may prove useful in future endeavors.
Gulanqi has put at your disposal three slave-boys who have led you to the ruins. They will serve as torchbearers for your expedition to the underworld of Jakalla. The adventure begins outside the temple a few hours after sundown.